Most people are familiar with medical diagnostic tests, such as x-rays. These tests are designed to help medical professionals accurately pinpoint the cause of the patient’s suffering so that an appropriate treatment can be implemented quickly. Unfortunately, what most people do not know is that diagnostic errors happen more frequently than you might imagine.
Most diagnostic errors remain unseen to the public, but for some of the individuals and families who are involved, they can be painful, frightening, and even deadly. When diagnostic errors do make headlines, it is sometimes because the situation involves a serious public health threat. For example, a man with Ebola was initially diagnosed as having sinusitis. When he returned to the hospital, he had gotten even sicker, and e eventually died. It is estimated that one in twenty people who seek outpatient care each year experience a diagnostic error. Diagnostic errors are actually the leading type of paid medical malpractice claims, and they are almost twice as likely as other types of claims to have resulted in a patient’s death.
Some of the most powerful diagnostic tools that medical professionals have available to them, like x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs, enable those professionals to see the inside of patients’ bodies. However, the ability to look inside of a patient’s body does not automatically lead to an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. It takes a high level of skill and care to properly interpret the images that the diagnostic tools produce. When these images are not interpreted correctly, inaccurate diagnoses may be made, diagnoses may be missed, or inappropriate treatments may be prescribed. When this happens, patients can become sicker and, in some cases, they can even die.
There are many things that can go wrong while medical professionals are performing or interpreting a diagnostic test. The test could be performed improperly, or it could be done on the wrong part of the body. The test results could be misinterpreted. One example of what can happen when an x-ray is misinterpreted is the case of a woman whose chest x-ray showed a mass on her lung which was not noted in the x-ray interpretation. The woman was a smoker, and she had a family history of lung cancer. Those factors were not taken into account in the x-ray interpretation, and the woman was given a diagnosis of a respiratory infection. She was prescribed antibiotics for treatment. Eighteen months later, she was still experiencing pain and had another chest x-ray done, which revealed advanced lung cancer and a mass that had doubled in size. The woman eventually died of lung cancer. Is it possible that she could have lived longer if she had received lung cancer treatment following the initial chest x-ray?
Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Supporting the Victims of Medical Malpractice in Mississippi
Diagnostic errors can cause patients to get even sicker before they receive proper treatment for their illnesses or injuries. Unfortunately, some diagnostic errors are even fatal. If you have been injured or if someone that you love was killed by a medical diagnostic error, the Mississippi Medical Malpractice Attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are here to help you. Please call our office today at (601) 355-2022.